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The Apparition

2012 | PG-13 | 2.39:1

The Apparition


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Theatrical release date

 24 August, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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The Apparition


Screenshots from The Apparition Blu-ray

The Apparition Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 24, 2012

The trailer for “The Apparition” contained more story than the picture it was promoting. In fact, I think the trailer for “The Apparition” is actually more of a movie than “The Apparition.” A wildly incoherent effort that spends most of its running time avoiding its own plot, “The Apparition” is one of those major studio releases that is so stunningly inept, it’s a wonder it’s receiving a theatrical release. However, maybe a brief stay in multiplexes is a positive thing, allowing those with heavenly B-movie patience to sit down and decode the bungled filmmaking. Perhaps there’s someone out there who could possibly explain the feature to me one day.

At some point in the 1970s, a group of paranormal researchers decided to conjure the spirit of a lost colleague by concentrating on his spiritual force, permitting him access to the real world. Decades later, parapsychology students Patrick (Tom Felton), Ben (Sebastian Stan), and Lydia (Julianna Guill) attempt to recreate the experiment, achieving success, but to an unknown extent. Years later, Ben is trying to build a life with girlfriend Kelly (Ashley Greene), creating domestic bliss in a remote housing development languishing due to poor market conditions. It’s not long before the happy couple begins to discover eerie occurrences and assorted elements of rot and death in their abode, while Kelly stumbles upon Ben’s secret collegiate life of spectral invitation, horrified to learn that a ghost has invaded the home with hopes to join the land of the living.

The above synopsis is more of a guess than a true summation of the plot. Truthfully, “The Apparition” has a story but feels nervous to share it with the audience, keeping the film a highlight reel of hauntings without a drop of substance. Writer/director Todd Lincoln simply doesn’t have the vision required for this “Poltergeist” rip-off, stumbling through the picture in production survival mode, failing to develop anything introduced in the script beyond whispers and stares. And boy howdy, this effort is filled with people looking at things.

While a cute couple, Ben and Kelly aren’t the brightest bulbs around, spying truly hideous developments around their home (a few thwacked with a Cronenbergian urge toward mysterious cavities and fleshy fungi) without much in the way of a profound reaction. Instead of panic, they prod, finding much of “The Apparition” devoted to glacial acts of investigation, watching the couple slowly pore over the details of their doom. It feels like half of the feature is concentrated on concentration, though with Greene and Stan, maybe less interaction with Lincoln’s absurdly dull dialogue is a good thing. It’s hard to fault the actors entirely, who dutifully look at stuff, while Greene strips down to her underwear on numerous occasions to crack the whip on wandering attention spans. The actors are faced with nothingness and they project confusion convincingly. After all, it’s hard to create characters when there’s not really a movie to insert themselves into.

The entire paranormal study angle is rudely peeled out of the finished product, reduced to random visual effect shots and an atypically chatty performance from Felton, who’s here to play Dr. Exposition, yet yammers on about nothing specific, lest the film actually acquire a point beyond empty scare sequences, a few cribbed entirely from other movies. Either the studio asserted its control and chopped the picture up during its long road to release (spending two years on the shelf), or Lincoln is a genuinely bad director, unable to make simple scenes work and bold horror moments pounce. Dialogue is shouted, dogs are killed, thoughts are amplified, and there’s this vague business in the 1970s that feels tacked on the production. And yet “The Apparition” goes nowhere, burning through 75 minutes of screentime without a single successful scene or a clear understanding of the ghost’s demands. Or maybe there’s a deeper meaning and insightful spectral observance buried underneath multiple layers of dramatic constipation. It’s a shame Lincoln has failed to provide a single reason to care about any of it.

Starring: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, Julianna Guill, Rick Gomez, Luke Pasqualino
Director: Todd Lincoln

» See full cast & crew

The Apparition, Forum Discussions

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The Apparition (2012) 91 Sep 07, 2012

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